Pittsfield man gets jail for stealing grandmother's copper pipes


PITTSFIELD -- An admitted drug addict is serving a 2 1/2 year jail sentence after admitting to a series of crimes, including stealing copper from his grandmother's home.

Nicholas W. Burke, 24, of Cheshire Road, broke into the Sunset Street home of his grandmother, who had recently been placed in a nursing home, last month, according to Pittsfield Police. He ripped the copper piping from the home's water heater and boiler and then sold the metal at a city scrap dealer.

At the time of the crime, Burke was out on bail on other charges, police said.

In January, police arrested Burke and a female companion trying to sell stolen loose diamonds and jewelry at RJ Stohr Diamonds & Fine Jewelry on North Street after an employee called authorities, believing the items were stolen.

One of the rings Burke was trying to sell had been specially made by the jewelers for a customer who had reported the theft to the company that same day.

According to a police report, many of the pieces of jewelry had been taken during a Lanesborough break-in earlier in the day.

Burke told police he found most of the jewelry on the ground near a gas station.

When police frisked Burke, loose diamonds were found in his pocket along with a ring. A bag with jewelry also was tied to the defendant.

The woman, Lindsey Johns, 20, told police Burke had asked her to hold the bag for him. She wasn't charged in that case.

More charges were filed after police determined Burke got Johns to sell some more jewelry at another shop around the same time.

Johns was charged with receiving stolen property over $250 and larceny under $250 by false pretense. She was summonsed to court and is scheduled to be arraigned April 17.

Burke also was arrested in October 2013 after attempting to sell a plate compactor to Pittsfield Lawn & Tractor, the company that owned the equipment, which had been stolen during a rental. Police said the equipment used to compact soil and other materials had been stolen, along with a variety of tools, two days earlier from a construction site.

He pleaded guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Thursday to six charges, including multiple counts of receiving stolen property over $250. He was sentenced by Judge Paul M. Vrabel to 2 1/2 years in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.

The sentence was in line with a joint recommendation between the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and Burke's lawyer, Jessica Byrne.

Byrne told the court Burke had one of the worst drug habits she'd seen. She asked the court to recommend Burke for various drug treatment programs while he is incarcerated.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Michael D'Angelo, Burke has served previous jail sentences for these types of crimes. He said if the defendant is "unwilling or unable to get his addiction under control" he would end up serving state prison time.

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